I Tried A Hair Growth Kit For People Who Are Always Stressed

There’s no competition when it comes to being stressed out — we’re all a little stressed. However, the things that cause our stress can vary. For me, my stress stems from being a young adult working and living in New York City. It’s an expensive, extremely competitive city, and there never seems to be enough hours in the day to check off all the boxes on my to-do list.

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Also adding to my stress? Life-long struggles with my fine hair.

My hair history

Even though I have plenty of hair, the strands are all very fine, which makes them extremely vulnerable to heat and overstyling. After nearly a decade of wearing hair extensions, I was left with a few thin patches across my scalp. It took a year of ditching the extensions and quitting regularly hair dyeing to fully grow back my missing hair. When the patches filled in, I thought my hair health was back on track — but then a few months later, I experienced an especially stressful week and my hair began to shed in those same areas.

It turns out styling isn’t the only thing that affects my hair: Stress has a significant impact as well. I wanted to see what I could do to prevent my stress-induced shedding from happening again, so in November 2019, I underwent Nutrafol’s hair mineral analysis. I work for Nutrafol, so this is a service available to me through my job; however, Nutrafol customers are also able to get their own hair mineral analysis for free after subscribing to Nutrafol for at least six months.

For the hair mineral analysis, I had a small swatch of my hair snipped off and sent into a lab for testing. When Dr. Giovanni Nelson, ND, called to tell me the results, he confirmed that my hair was being affected by my stress levels. He suggested I work with Nutrafol’s team of naturopathic doctors to come up with a Nutrafol GrowthPlan® that would help keep my stress in check.

The De-Stress Hair Growth Kit

That following week, I met with Dr. Mara Davidson, ND, to create my plan. Keeping my stress levels in mind, she recommended the Nutrafol De-Stress Hair Growth Kit, which includes the Nutrafol Core for Women with the Stress Adaptogen. The ingredients in Nutrafol’s Stress Adaptogen work to help improve the body’s stress response.

The stress hormone cortisol can trigger hair growth-harming pathways in the body, but these calming adaptogens help protect against stress-related complications and maintain a healthy hair growth cycle.

Lifestyle changes for stress relief

In addition to my supplements, Dr. Davidson advised me to make several lifestyle changes as well.

  • Exercise often. For me, she recommended five times per week.
  • Meditate daily. “Meditation is fantastic for stress,” Dr. Davidson noted. “Especially before bed.” She recommended apps, music, or yoga to switch up my meditations.
  • Start taking a probiotic. She suggested incorporating a probiotic, like Nutrafol’s Hairbiotic, to support my gut health and help protect the gut from environmental and hormonal stressors.
  • Cut out junk food. Particularly sugary foods that cause blood sugar to spike.
  • Stay away from caffeine. Especially in the afternoon and at night.

She explained how stress can trigger many people to eat, and the foods stressed-out people usually reach for aren’t typically nutritionally-dense. Junk foods often leave you feeling worse, which then causes your stress to jump even more. People with stress or anxiety disorder also tend to have increased caffeine sensitivity, so Dr. Davidson recommended transitioning from coffee to tea (particularly chamomile tea when I need extra help calming down). I was also instructed to not eat right before bed, drink lots of water, and, if I must have caffeine, avoid consuming caffeine in the afternoons and evenings.

How I made Nutrafol part of my daily routine

For 30 days, I followed my GrowthPlan®. I found that taking the supplements every day was an easy task. Because I receive free products at work, I would take my six pills (the recommended daily doses are four Nutrafol Core pills and two Stress Adaptogen pills) as soon as I arrived to the office in the morning. I always made sure to take them with a breakfast that was heavy in protein and healthy fats (smoothies with avocado were my go-to) and drink a large glass of water.

Avoiding coffee and not stress eating was tough, though. I’m someone who has several cups of coffee every single morning, and I’ve always been somewhat of a “stress snacker.” I struggled throughout the entire month to give up caffeine completely, but by the end of week two, I was successfully fighting the urge to snack when I was stressed.

Meditation has never been a part of my routine, so remembering to meditate daily took some trial and error. I downloaded the mindfulness meditation app Headspace and tried out a few different meditations. My mind wandered a lot at first, but eventually I was able to let go of my constant swirl of thoughts and get into the meditations. I also practiced yoga several times throughout the month and made it to the gym at least four days each week.

My results

After taking the supplements for 30 days and making the suggested lifestyle changes, I saw a difference in my stress levels. I slept better, was less jittery throughout the day, and felt less stressed overall. My day-to-day didn’t change much, but because I was feeling better from the inside out, tackling my to-do list felt more manageable and less chaotic. Now I’m less inclined to “stress snack” and make more of an effort to swap my coffee for tea (and every time I choose tea over coffee, I always realize how much better I feel throughout the day).

My plan not only improved my wellness from within, it also showed positive results on the outside: My hair feels much healthier, and it’s noticeably shinier. I got a trim just a few days before starting the Nutrafol De-Stress Hair Growth Kit and I already need another haircut. 

Before, I was taking the Nutrafol Core alone, but now I know what a difference the targeted boosters can make — and I can see these results in my hair and my stress levels.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. TESS MARSHALL, ND

on January 15, 2020

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on January 15, 2020

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Here’s How And Where To Donate Your Hair

If one of your New Year’s resolutions this year is to give back to others, consider giving something you may already have in abundance: your hair.

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A human hair wig is a natural-looking option for anyone who is experiencing balding or hair thinning due to stress, alopecia, or the treatment of illnesses like cancer. This type of hair loss can be a devastating event, affecting a person’s confidence and happiness. Wearing a wig that looks and feels like their own hair can bring some semblance of normalcy back into their life.

And with the right care, human hair wigs can last years, compared to the months-long lifespan of some synthetic wigs. But where do those wigs come from?

How are human hair wigs made?

Human hair wigs come from people like you and the amazing not-for-profits that take it upon themselves to organize, collect, and create them. It can take 20 to 30 ponytails of hair to make one wig, so it’s not an easy task, but it’s incredibly rewarding for both the donors and the receivers. Pantene Beautiful Lengths, which is no longer in operation, provided thousands of wigs to women with cancer throughout its 12-year run, but many other organizations are still producing natural wigs for people in need.

Where to donate your hair

Here’s how and where to get involved if you want to shear and share this year:

Locks of Love

Minimum length: 10 inches

Locks of Love has been around since 1997, donating wigs to financially disadvantaged kids, teens, and adolescents experiencing medical hair loss. To donate to Locks of Love, you don’t need to have a professional make the big chop, so long as the donated hair totals at least 10 inches in length end to end and is shipped bundled in either a ponytail or a braid. Dyed or permed hair is acceptable as long as the hair is in good health.

Wigs for Kids

Minimum length: 12 inches

Wigs for Kids has one simple vision: “Helping children look themselves and live their lives.” For 30 years, the organization has been making wigs for kids under the age of 18 who have lost their hair due to medical reasons like cancer treatment or alopecia. Donated hair can’t be dyed, bleached, or highlighted, and they require at least 12 inches but suggest 14 or more.

Pink Heart Funds

Minimum length: 10 inches

Pink Heart Funds requires at least 10 inches of hair to make wigs for people of any age with hair loss disorders. Gone gray? No problem — Pink Heart Funds takes gray, dyed, or permed hair of any texture as long as it isn’t overly processed and is mailed in fastened with a rubber band or hair tie in a clear plastic baggie.

Children With Hair Loss

Minimum length: 8 inches

If your hair hasn’t quite made the 10-inch cut, Children With Hair Loss (CWHL) will take donated hair that is at least eight inches tip to tip. CWHL donates wigs to young folks under the age of 21 and prefers non-chemically treated hair, but the organization will take any hair in good quality, including gray hair. In 2019, CWHL was also the recipient of more than 2,000 hair donations by a single entity (The Longhairs), breaking the Guinness World Record!

Hair We Share

Minimum length: 12 inches

Based on Long Island, NY, Hair We Share takes hair donations of at least a foot long. Recipients of these custom wigs must be under 18 and must have lost their hair due to medical reasons. Donated hair can’t be highlighted, but the hair can be dyed as long as tit’s still a naturally occurring color. Gray hair is also welcome.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. KATELYN CLOYD, ND

on January 13, 2020

8 Wellness Trends To Try In 2020

Each new year inspires millions of Americans to create resolutions focused on health, fitness, and general wellness. Whether personal goals include losing weight, getting toned, or simply improving the quality of one’s everyday life, there are actionable ways that help people stick to their newfound commitments.

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From at-home exercise classes, fitness vacationing, and everything in between, here are eight of the latest wellness trends that you need to try in 2020.

1. At-home workouts with hardware

Rather than joining a gym with fancy equipment, fitness fanatics can purchase specialized exercise machines that allow them to stream trainer-instructed classes at home. Brands such as Peloton, Mirror, Tonal, and Echelon offer sessions for cycling, treadmill, yoga, strength training, cardio, and more — no commute necessary.

2. Workout apps

For individuals who love working out at home, but don’t have room in their apartments for an exercise bike, treadmill, or a wall fixture, exercise apps are easy to use and convenient. Streamable and downloadable classes allow viewers to be active for however long their schedule permits, whether that’s 5 minutes, 50 minutes, or longer. Even when on-the-go, a variety of classes (dance cardio, yoga, barre, sculpt sessions, and the like) can be accessed through platforms such as The Sculpt Society, obé and FitOn, among others.

3. Probiotics and prebiotics

Going with your gut has never been so easy. Promoting health from the inside out, probiotics (live bacteria) and prebiotics (fiber) can be found in supplement capsules and foods like cereal, yogurt, and even ice cream. Now that both probiotics and prebiotics are topics of dietary conversation and found in so many forms, they’ve become less of a task to find and (happily) consume. These important components have been and will continue to be a major part of maintaining digestive health in 2020.

4. Fitness travel

While away on vacation, travelers don’t have to leave behind their workout regimens. In fact, many people are starting to plan their entire vacations around their favorite workouts. Yoga retreats, bootcamps, and a variety of other fitness travel programs are becoming more and more popular. These workout-centered getaways are coordinated by organizations and fitness instructors, respectively, in domestic and international locations. They allow passionate participants to stretch their legs, gain muscle and perspective, and explore the world — all at the same time.

5. Nutraceuticals

Instead of mapping out every single meal and mineral to make sure you achieve your daily vitamin recommendations — which is truly exhausting and time consuming — nutraceuticals offer the most bang (better ingredients) in fewer supplement quantities. With high-end packaging and science backing this stuff, quality wellness is attainable in less time and with less fuss. 

6. Intermittent fasting

While intermittent fasting can sound intimidating, this trend that popped up in 2019 will extend into the new decade. Meals are eaten at specific time periods, and there’s no snacking during intermittent fasting (although water and coffee are allowed). The 16/8 regimen, for example, means individuals fast for 14 to 16 hours and restrict their eating window to eight to 10 hours, according to PubMed. Some people use this method to successfully lose weight, even though it doesn’t entail a specific calorie count or restrictions on certain foods.

7. Sleep accessories

Most adults require seven to nine hours of sleep, according to the Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society. To reach that target number, the sleep sector has exploded with product offerings such as eye masks, ear plugs, balms, monitors, apps, noise machines, and more. These accessories, inventions, and tools help people catch the ZZZs they need for rest, regeneration, and a plethora of health benefits, and keep a regular sleep schedule. After all, who doesn’t love a good night’s sleep?

8. Concierge wellness

Instead of guessing what you may (or may not) need to consume or questioning the habits you should adopt (or eliminate) in your day-to-day life, custom wellness solutions are available to
solve a variety of issues and concerns. Nutrafol’s Hair Mineral Analysis, for example, uses ICP Mass Spectrometry technology to examine hair samples for 27 minerals and metals as well as nutrient rations. With that information, a naturopathic doctor can suggest diet and lifestyle recommendations to encourage hair growth. Other wellness centers like The Well and Parsley Health take an individualized approach to prescribing wellness proposals, and therefore, close the gap between obstacles and reaching your specific goals.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on January 13, 2020

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I Tried A 30-Day Liver Cleanse — Here’s Everything I Did

In anticipation of a new year and New Year’s resolutions, I decided to embark on a 30-day liver cleanse this past December. I’m not one for fad diets or restrictive food plans, but for me, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s typically entails running around to parties, eating sugary sweets (my weakness), drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and consuming fatty foods.

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These habits often leave me feeling not-so-great, so to end the cycle, I asked the wellness experts at Nutrafol to help me clean up my diet, amp up my supplement routine, and change my habits for a healthier liver in 2020.

Keep scrolling for a full breakdown of my supplement dosage, grocery list, and lifestyle while on the cleanse, as well as how I felt before, during, and after the 30 days.

Why I went on a 30-day liver cleanse

Although I knew a cleanse would be positive for my well-being, I didn’t know how much my liver was actually doing on a regular basis. I learned that as part of the digestive system, the liver carries out 500 or so tasks. Some highlights include bile production (which helps the small intestine break down and absorb fats), vitamin and mineral storage (including Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12), filtering blood and metabolizing toxins, and so much more.

As it turns out, poor liver health can also impact one’s hair.

“Toxins come into the body from our environment in many ways. These toxins can disrupt our mitochondria, shift our hormones, and directly damage the follicle,” said Dr. Tess Marshall, ND, the director of product development and science marketing at Nutrafol. When our liver is working optimally, it helps to rid the body of toxins so they don’t wreak havoc on our hair.

Before embarking on this 30-day liver challenge, I clearly hadn’t considered what the liver does, let alone how my diet affects my hair. Sure, I figured ingredients in my hair care products and environmental toxins (thanks, NYC!) were probably affecting my hair health, but food wasn’t at the top of my mind — and neither were supplements.

My supplement routine 

To improve my habits, liver health, and hair, I sought the advice of Dr. Marshall, who told me what to eat, drink, supplement with, and more for this 30-day liver cleanse. The first thing she did was personalize a liver-targeted GrowthPlan®, which included a month’s supply of Nutrafol Women and a targeted Liver Support booster and Vitamin B-Booster.

My Nutrafol Women + Liver Support, along with the lemon water I drank every morning.

In the mornings with breakfast, I took four Nutrafol Women capsules, which contain curcumin, selenium, resveratrol, zinc, tocotrienol complex, and saw palmetto to support my hair by targeting nutrition, environmental toxins, stress, my immune system, and hormones. Everyone’s system is different, but Nutrafol’s Core formula covers my basics.

After taking the Nutafol Women capsules, I swallowed two Nutrafol B-Booster dropperfuls, which contain seven B vitamins. The body uses these micronutrients to stay energized when it’s stressed — and even when it’s not. 

Nutrafol's Vitamin B-Booster is sweetened with keto-friendly monkfruit. Yum!

The body also uses B vitamins to increase the cellular energy needed to maintain a healthy hair growth cycle and to support the metabolism of toxins and hormones.

At night, right before bed, I took two Nutrafol Liver Support capsules, containing milk thistle, artichoke, and yellow dock, which support my body’s ability to make glutathione.  

The formula’s liver-supporting botanicals are known to support healthy liver processing, while the antioxidant herbs combat free radicals and increase antioxidant defenses in the body.

Foods I ate in abundance

Before I started my 30-day liver challenge, Dr. Marshall equipped me with a list of plant-based, whole foods that I could eat with abandon. 

  • Gluten-free grains
  • Hormone-free eggs
  • Free-range poultry
  • Grass-fed and finished beef
  • Low mercury fish 
  • Organic bone broth 
  • Legumes
  • Organic fruits & veggies 
  • Seeds like chia and flax 
  • Soluble fiber like oats and pears 
  • Cinnamon 
  • Circumin 

For my fruit and veggie needs, I utilized Misfits Market, which reduces food waste by delivering “ugly” (read: less-than-perfect-looking) organic produce (like carrots, onions, eggplant, kale, and oranges) directly to my door once a week for four weeks. 

My weekly delivery of "ugly" organic produce from Misfits Market.

Each Misfits Market bundle lasted for an entire week of meals! I liked it so much the first week, I kept getting it throughout my entire challenge.

Foods I cut out of my diet

In addition to my beloved coffee (and caffeine in general), I was instructed to avoid the following. 

  • Saturated fats
  • Refined sugar
  • Alcohol (2 glasses of wine permissible on occasion) 
  • Caffeine (try herbal tea instead or green tea if you *really* need caffeine) 
  • Dairy
  • Non-organic produce
  • Gluten

Instead of focusing on what I was giving up (trust me, refined sugar is a big one), I did my best to turn my attention to other elements I enjoy, like exercise.

Flushing out toxins  

Dr. Marshall outlined some lifestyle tweaks and advice to help me flush as many toxins as possible while I was supporting my liver with the right diet and supplements. 

  • Sweat 4-5 times per week. Whether in the sauna or at a yoga or exercise class
  • Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water per day. Start the day with lemon water. Herbal tea (try dandelion!) counts toward the daily goal. 
  • Poop! “If you are cleansing the liver and not using the bathroom, it is trouble,” wrote Dr. Marshall. “Use magnesium or smooth move tea if necessary.”
  • Try intermittent fasting for a week. Dr. Marshall recommends a 16-hour fast from after dinner to lunch the next day, but listen to your body and adjust as needed. 
  • Make a castor oil pack for your belly. Rub castor oil on your belly, cover with a thin towel, and top with a heat pack. Leave on for 30 minutes to one hour. Repeat 2 to 3 times per week.

WEEK 1: Settling into my new routine 

First up: make these 6 pills part of my daily routine.

During week one, my main goal was to remember to take the supplements each day and night. Truthfully, I missed one morning and one evening because I was rushing to get out of the house and also fell asleep, respectively.

I went to Rumble Boxing four times during this first week and made sure I was sweating out as many toxins as I could.

Admittedly, I snuck some vegan coconut ice cream into my week. While I was making changes already (certainly consuming fewer servings of sugar), my sweet tooth crept up on me! And, true to form: I still consumed black coffee.

WEEK 2: Knocking out sugar cravings 

By week two, I finally got in the swing of taking supplements each day. I even stored some at my boyfriend’s apartment, so I didn’t have to carry them with me or accidentally forget them at home.

I kept up with my organic fruits and vegetables delivery from Misfits Market, which proved to be super helpful while I was meal prepping. While I typically choose the same produce each and every time I grocery shop, the boxes often changed contents and even featured items I wouldn’t normally purchase, like radishes and celery.

I stuck with the same Rumble Boxing routine, attending and sweating it out four times that week.

Getting my daily sweats in per Dr. Marshall's orders.

Although I had a few glasses of wine and some dessert on one night, I didn’t crave sugar as much as I had previously. I drank half as much coffee and tried substituting with herbal and green tea.

WEEK 3: Clear skin and sounder sleep 

In week three, I noticed I was checking more labels to ensure foods were organic before consuming them. Dr. Marshall challenged me to go to yoga three times a week and the sauna two times a week. Instead, I combined the two (for efficiency) and went to hot yoga at CorePower Yoga in NYC four times a week.

I noticed I was sleeping better (and falling asleep more quickly) than I had before. My skin hadn’t had a breakout since beginning the challenge, and despite the normal holiday stresses, I seemed to move through my days feeling less bogged down by the little things.

WEEK 4: The final stretch 

During week four, I fell off the wagon a little bit. I went out during the weekend with friends and indulged in non-organic foods and drinks. However, despite my slip up, I found that jumping back into my liver cleanse routine was a cinch because I had developed a healthy routine that began every morning and concluded each night with supplements. I simply resumed my regimen the next day.

My results and final thoughts

Truth be told, I went into this challenge feeling a little anxious. I was concerned I’d feel restricted by the dietary parameters and ultimately rebel (which, early on, I subtly did with sweets and caffeine). Despite my less-than-enthusiastic stance on giving up refined sugar and coffee, I ultimately felt that the other changes I made were significant. Small shifts in my habits, like reading labels on grocery store proteins, took seconds. Swapping pasta and other gluten-heavy carbs for veggies took no time, thanks to my special food deliveries.

Working out and sweating was still fun and engaging. I actually felt less lethargic while exercising. I wasn’t trying to lose weight, but I ended up dropping a few pounds in 30 days.

While I’m not 100% sure all of my changes will stick in the long run (specifically in the categories of eliminating sugar and coffee), I do think other elements of my liver cleanse, like incorporating more organic fruits and vegetables, doing yoga more often, and certainly eating more organic foods, will continue.

I’ve also gotten into the habit of taking supplements, which is a no-brainer — I’ll surely be continuing to take those.

Even though I did the 30-day cleanse to give my liver a break, it’s undeniable that my hair certainly benefited from the month-long challenge. It’s been shinier, softer, and more manageable — all of which I don’t think are coincidental — and I’m excited to see hair changes as I continue to take these supplements, even now that my 30-day challenge is over.

 

My Liver-Targeted GrowthPlan®

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. TESS MARSHALL, ND

on January 9, 2020

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The Link Between Beta Blockers And Hair Thinning

Beta blockers are a class of medications that block adrenaline and other stress hormones from affecting your heart. Most often, beta blockers are a treatment for heart conditions, anxiety, or even glaucoma.

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While using beta blockers, some people experience hair thinning and hair loss. As the beta blocker stops the stress hormones, it can restrict blood vessels, including the hair follicles, and that can cause hair thinning. 

Hair loss and medications

Hair loss or hair thinning are common possible side effects of many medications — beta blockers included. There are two types of hair loss that can occur while taking these medications: telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium. With telogen effluvium, the medication affects the hair in the “resting” phase of the growth cycle, causing short and temporary hair loss (however, new hair growth continues in follicles that are in the growth stages).

With anagen effluvium, thinning occurs with the follicles in the growth stage and stops new hair from growing. Anagen effluvium is longer-term hair loss and can cause hair loss not just on the scalp but with eyebrows and eyelashes, too. 

What medications cause hair loss?

Beta blockers, especially those used to treat glaucoma and include forms of timolol, may cause hair loss or hair thinning.The beta blockers used for high blood pressure can also cause hair loss.

However, there are many other medications that cause hair loss as a possible side effect, including:

  • Blood thinners
  • Statins
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs (some medications used to treat inflammation like naproxen or sulindac can cause hair loss)
  • Vitamin A (taking vitamin A in high doses can actually result in hair thinning and loss)
  • Acne medication
  • Immunosuppressants

Note that these are just some of the medications that cause hair loss. If you’ve experienced hair loss and are wondering if it’s from your medication, talk to your doctor for more information.

Will my hair grow back?

Most hair loss from medications will stop once you stop taking the medication. (But before stopping any medication — even if the medication causes hair loss — you should talk to your doctor.) The hair regrowth won’t be instantaneous. Some people notice hair growth again within three to six months after stopping the medication. Most people notice their hair starting to regrow after six months. It may take up to 12-18 months for hair growth to return to normal.

Most likely your hair will grow back; it just won’t grow back instantly.

The bottom line

There are many medications, such as beta blockers, that can cause hair loss by targeting either the resting follicles or the new growth follicles. While the hair loss can be uncomfortable for some people, it’s usually reversible within a year of stopping the medication. If you are experiencing hair loss from medications, talk to your medical doctor. You can ask your doctor about alternatives, changing the dosage, or stopping any medication.

It’s important to stay healthy and to get the right treatment, so make sure you follow your doctor’s advice.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on January 7, 2020

NEXT: Want a boost for your hair?

Everything You Need To Know About Creatine & Hair Loss

Creatine is one of the top muscle-building supplements on the market today. Its widespread use by many, particularly athletes, and decades of research make it an attractive option. But, is there such a thing as creatine hair loss or is creatine bad for you in any other ways?

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Below, read about what studies on the supplement are saying, as well as find a few answers to general creatine-related questions, like what is the recommended dosage of creatine? Does creatine cause hair loss? And, does creatine expire?

How to take creatine

When taken as a supplement, the most researched and utilized form of the product is creatine monohydrate. It’s also available in other forms as well, some of which include: creatine hydrochloride, creatine ethyl ester, buffered creatine, and creatine gluconate. Most users take the supplement with the goal of bulking up, so be sure to use it with high-intensity exercises like weight lifting and other muscle group-focused workouts that will get your heart rate up. Creatine can also be found in fish and other meats.

How creatine helps the body build muscle

Creatine is a natural compound found mostly in your body’s skeletal muscle, but research shows that taking creatine monohydrate before high-intensity exercise increases your body’s creatine stores. The normal amount of creatine found in the muscles averages around 120 to 160 mmol/kg. (in a 70-kilogram or approximately 154-pound individual), according to a review on creatine supplementation. This unlocks more energy in your muscles and allows for longer and more effective exercise. The lead source of energy in your body is adenosine triphosphate (ATP). When your store of ATP is used up while training, taking creatine uses the replenished stores of phosphocreatine to replenish ATP, lengthening your workout and providing other benefits.

Rumors about creatine’s side effects

So, does creatine cause hair loss? We’ll get right to it: No scientific study has ever conclusively found that creatine does cause hair loss. A 2009 study on only 20 rugby players had the athletes take 25g/day of creatine powder for 1 week, then 5g/day for 2 weeks and compared their results with those of the group who only took a placebo. Some tested had higher levels of DHT, a testosterone-related metabolite. A spike in DHT causes hair loss for some men, but those in this group didn’t specifically report it.

There hasn’t been a specific study found on creatine’s possible link to DHT increases since, but researchers are pretty clear about creatine being a fairly safe product to take. One review on creatine notes that the only side effect consistently reported from supplementing with creatine is weight gain. Although taking creatine supplements may have adverse effects on some users, some of these claims you’ve likely seen fall under an umbrella of “anecdotal evidence,” meaning that the results are not backed by scientific research. Someone might write in a fitness message board that creatine caused balding after a few months of use, but so far research hasn’t backed that up.

As we’ve pointed out in other posts, hair loss is typically a combination of factors and even genetics are not always the common denominator among those affected. This is the same with creatine hair loss. A seasoned triathlete might complain that taking creatine monohydrate powder caused hair thinning and then it started to grow back after he switched to a different supplement. While that may have been his experience, it isn’t necessarily attributed as creatine side effects.

Does creatine expire?

Like many supplements, creatine lasts for a certain length of time. Most versions of it can last for around one year. But make sure to check labels, as all products have different expiration dates and creatine does expire. If you make sure it is stored in a dry and cool area, you should be able to safely use the product as part of your workout. Though it may be alarming to some, if you are using a creatine monohydrate powder and you see clumping, it does not inevitably mean it’s gone “bad,” since likely result of exposure to moisture. If it is smelly or discolored (which shouldn’t happen unless it’s been out at room temperature for a few days), then we recommend replacing it with some new creatine monohydrate powder. Fortunately, because of its well-established role in the fitness world, creatine is fairly inexpensive.

A few final thoughts

Is creatine bad for you? Does creatine cause hair loss? As with any supplement, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects. But according to research, creatine shouldn’t have too many negative side effects. Your hair shouldn’t suffer when you take it. If hair loss is a concern for you, consider adding a hair wellness supplement like Nutrafol to your regimen. 

Together with high-intensity exercise, creatine monohydrate will increase your body’s creatine stores and create more of your body’s ATP to build muscle and help you exercise longer. 

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on January 6, 2020

NEXT: Want a boost for your hair?

Beginner’s HIIT Cardio Workouts For Weight Loss

Interested in HIIT? Wondering how HIIT training works and whether it’s something you can incorporate into your fitness regimen? If you answered “yes,” you’ve come to the right place.

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Below, we’re laying out everything you need to know about HIIT training. You’ll find two of the best HIIT cardio workouts and learn more about why you should try HIIT training today — even if you’re a beginner.

How does HIIT training work?

HIIT stands for High-Intensity Interval Training. It is a series of fast-paced, short exercises followed by brief periods of rest. Most HIIT exercises only take 10-30 minutes, so it’s a great workout if you’re pressed for time. (Click here if you want to learn more about how long you should work out.)

Benefits of HIIT

Tired of spending money on exercise gear or equipment every time you try a new workout? HIIT cardio can be done equipment-free and still get tons of muscles engaged. You may want to do the standing workout below on a yoga mat, but that’ll be your choice.

HIIT is also great for beginners. If you’re unfamiliar with the world of fitness but interested in trimming down a bit for the new year, HIIT cardio is a great way to start.

Additionally, there are some great health benefits to HIIT cardio. These exercises can help to get your blood sugar under control, strengthen bones, improve overall physical fitness, and more. For some, HIIT cardio may even be better than longer cardio workouts that don’t incorporate rest breaks, and the brief intervals of rest might help you to burn a lot of calories in these shorter spurts of exercise.

HIIT training is for everyone

For cardio fitness gurus and beginners alike, HIIT cardio can be an enjoyable and efficient way to burn some body fat and increase heart rate. Below are two great HIIT exercises for beginners. If these workouts feel uncomfortable or challenging or even make you want to give up, just remember that even physical trainers start somewhere. You’ve got this. Just try to finish every time despite the initial discomfort of the first tries. Through the power of routine exercise, these HIIT cardio workouts will become easier and you’ll likely notice great results.

These workouts are two of the best HIIT workouts for beginners, but don’t think of them as set in stone. If you can’t finish one of these workout plans, adjust the intensity and/or lengthen the periods of rest so that you can still meet your goals. If you’re already in great shape, these HIIT cardio workouts can still improve your overall fitness. These are HIIT workouts for beginners though, so similarly, if either of these workout plans are too easy, adjust the intervals for more of a challenge.

HIIT cardio workout plans

The 15-Minute Sidewinder Treadmill Workout:
1. Warm-up for 5 minutes, raising sped from 2.5 mph to 3.5 mph
2. Walk sideways* for 2 minutes at 2 mph, 1 minute facing each way
3. Repeat step 2 at 2.5 mph
4. Walk facing forward for 1 minute at 4.5 mph
5. Walk facing forward for 1 minute at 3.5 mph
6. Repeat step 2 at 2.6 mph
7. Repeat step 2 at 2.8 mph
8. Rest, catch your breath, get your heart rate if desired

*Make sure to keep your balance but don’t put weight on the bars on the treadmill with your arms.

The 10-Minute Workout:
For this workout, go all out for 30 seconds and then rest for one minute.

1. Jumping jacks
2. Rest
3. Peddling on a stationary bike
4. Rest
5. Sprinting in place
6. Rest
7. Burpees
8. Rest
9. Squats
10. Rest
11. Push-ups
12. Rest
13. Lunges
14. Rest

The power of Nutrafol

Learn about how Nutrafol can help with other aspects of your health. If you suffer from hair thinning or balding, Nutrafol’s natural supplements for hair growth can help. Click here to take the first step in developing thicker, healthier hair for the new year.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on January 2, 2020

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6 Steps To Make Meal Prepping Easier

Meal prepping isn’t just a “trend.” It’s a method that saves you time and can be a tool to help you eat healthier. The concept is simple: Meal prepping involves preparing whole meals or dishes ahead of schedule.

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It’s popular among busy people because it can save a lot of time. Think about it: On a hectic work day morning, packing up an entire breakfast or lunch is probably one of the last things you want to do (or even have time for) before heading into the office. The same goes for making a whole dinner from start-to-finish after a long day of work.

Chances are, your schedule and overall wellness could benefit from meal prepping. If you’re asking yourself, “How do I start meal prepping?” read on for easy and healthy meal prep ideas and what you’ll need to get started.

How to meal prep

Step 1: Decide how you want to meal prep.

There are several different ways to meal prep. You can:

  • Cook a single meal at night, and then store it in your fridge or freezer to pull out in the morning.
  • “Ingredient prep” by chopping veggies, mixing spices, or marinating meat in advance to make cooking future meals easier.
  • Batch cook multiple dishes in large portions, then portion them into single-serving containers before storing them. (This is what most people think of when they talk about meal prepping; however, if you’re doing any sort of preparation in advance, then you’re meal prepping!)

What foods are good to meal prep?

Step 2: Pick what foods you want to meal prep.

When it comes to thinking up meal prep ideas, the possibilities may seem endless; however, you’ll only want to stick to foods that hold up well in storage and still taste good after a few days in the refrigerator.

Start with a protein and vegetable base, and then go from there. Some base ideas include cooked meat or tofu, nuts, and roasted or raw vegetables. You can create a plated meal, or combine your vegetables and proteins into a soup. Switch up the protein and veggies you use each week to keep your meal prep ideas interesting (and get creative with the toppings! Switch off between savory and sweet).

Some foods that are not suitable for meal prep? Soft vegetables, cut fruit, and crunchy food like crackers. These foods will soften quickly when kept in the refrigerator and therefore aren’t the best meal prep ideas.

Reheating and re-serving meal prep meals

Step 3: Think about how you’ll reheat your meals.

The dishes you meal prep may depend on access to a microwave. Consider meal prep ideas and recipes that you can enjoy cold if using a microwave isn’t an option.

When to meal prep

Step 4: Plan a specific time to meal prep.

Meal prepping does require a block of your time, but the trade off is you’ll end up saving time during the rest of the week.

Sunday nights are great for batch cooking: You’re able able to come up with your meal prep ideas, shop for them, and then make them before the standard work week even starts. But don’t fret if you’re someone who works on Sundays — any time or day is suitable for meal prepping. Create your meal prep ideas and then start cooking whenever your schedule allows for it.

Many people use their free time to meal prep their lunches for the week, but if you have the time, you can also meal prep your breakfasts and dinners, too.

How long can you keep meal prep in the fridge?

Step 5: Determine how long you plan to store your meal preps.

If you’re using fresh ingredients that maintain well in the fridge, you can keep your meal preps in the fridge for the entire work week. If you reach Day 5 and you still have a meal left, try to eat it within the next few days or store it in the freezer if you can.

A meal prep’s life really depends on what ingredients you use and how you store it, so be mindful of those two things when coming up with meal prep ideas.

How to store your meal prep meals

Step 6: Stock up on containers.

As you incorporate meal prepping into your lifestyle, it’s smart to invest in quality food storage containers. Compared to plastic containers, glass containers and sealed bowls are your best bet: They’re environmentally-friendly and microwave-safe. Reusable plastics actually contain chemicals that can leach into your food if you heat them in the microwave. Thermal, stainless steel containers are ideal for keeping food at specific temperatures (both warm or chilled).

You should pick up containers in an assortment of sizes so you’re able to store any size of meal. If you take supplements with your meals, consider purchasing a special container to pack your supplements up with your meal preps. Packing up your supplements with your meal is yet another way to save time and ensure you’re getting the most nutritionally out of your work lunch.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on December 30, 2019

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Key Ways To Stop Sugar Cravings

A common pitfall for many people is that gnawing craving for sugar: that candy, donut, cookie, ice cream, chocolate bar… Or how about that carb craving of a bagel, bowl of pasta, or baguette?

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When these cravings hit, they usually hit hard, making you ravenous for anything sugar. It’s easy for people to find themselves binging on anything and everything to curb that craving — and unfortunately, these cravings can cause you to consume excess amounts of sugar and commonly lead to overeating as well, triggering weight gain.

What causes sugar cravings?

If you have those frequent food cravings, you are not alone. The majority of the population have food cravings which happen with frequency (i.e. several times weekly), and 80-85% of those craving episodes end with the consumption of the specific food or something similar. Craving carbohydrates is a seemingly common hankering for many people, and it is important to realize that all carbs are comprised of sugar— some more than others, depending on the type of carbohydrate it is. (For more information on the different types of carbohydrates, click here!)

We’ve all encountered those energy slumps, usually in the early- to mid-afternoon, where we start getting tired and need something to get us through the rest of the day. Unfortunately when you have “hit the wall” and need that pick-me-up, you usually go for the quickest sugar boost — the cookie, the donut, the pasta, something usually with no real nutritive substance. So when it hits your system in a matter of minutes, you get that energy burst, thanks to the “sugar high,” and can continue to push through…. or can you?

In addition to messing with your blood glucose (blood sugar) as well as insulin (a hormone which signals cells in the body to soak up blood sugar so it can be used for energy or stored for later) levels, this snacking behavior only makes you crave more sugar in the long run. It can also lead to the potential for health issues, such as diabetes or cortisol (stress hormone) dysregulation.

As there is no real nutritive substance to maintain that sugar you have consumed, it gets burned through very fast, leaving you craving something else almost immediately. Consuming these empty sugar calories usually leads to you eating more. Generally, this is due to you eating very quickly during these moments, not taking the time to taste your food and allowing proper digestive processes to take place and then consequently not hearing your body when it says it is full. At the same time, you don’t stay full for very long because of the lack of nutrients in the sugar rich-food you have consumed, leaving you hungry again, and craving more sugar to get that “quick fix.” And oftentimes, before you know it, this process becomes a vicious cycle throughout the day.

How stress affects sugar cravings

Sugar cravings can be further stimulated or compounded by stress. Stress is a common culprit in influencing dietary choices and eating behaviors. Chronic stress especially has been connected with weight gain and obesity.

Remember cortisol? Well, this stress hormone can also trigger appetite stimulation as well as increases in food intake. Interestingly, sugar cravings may not be as simple as just wanting that “something sweet.” A study suggested that cortisol assists in the regulation of feeding behavior and choice, and higher cortisol levels forecasted both binge-eating and stress-induced eating. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter (which transmits signals between the body and the brain) plays a significant part in a person’s feelings of pleasure, reward, and motivation. It has been noted that dopamine is released as a consequence to tasting very palatable foods, resulting in the conjuring of certain feelings, including a heightened food reward. Cravings may be associated with your body’s desire for the dopamine release, knowing it will “feel good” after having eaten the particularly craved item. This could be a reason why you reach for that sugary food.

What can I take to stop sugar cravings?

Sugar imbalance can unfortunately lead to things like decreased nutrient utilization and hormone imbalance which can then, in turn, be reflected in your hair health. But Nutrafol’s Sugar Balance can help. The ingredients in Sugar Balance can help maintain a healthy glucose metabolism. As that improvement in blood sugar metabolism is worked toward, a decrease in those pesky sugar cravings may be observed too.

Because stress has been linked to sugar cravings, also try to reduce your levels of stress. One traditionally cost-effective tool to try out is meditation. There are so many forms of meditation available, from breathing exercises, to mindfulness, to mantras, and many more. In fact, mindfulness meditation has a long-standing history of being utilized to help address and manage cravings. You can also check out Nutrafol’s Stress Adaptogen, which has ingredients that assist in supporting a healthy stress response and subsequently help lend further support to that healthy hair cycle.

Overcoming those sugar cravings can be a challenge, but understanding why they may be happening can, in and of itself, be helpful in taking steps to curb them. Just remember the many supportive measures are available to you.

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on December 27, 2019

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How To Treat A Dry Scalp

Flakes in your hair? It might be dandruff, but it could be a dry scalp. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to discern between dandruff and dry scalp, but the good news is there are many tips that are a good starting point for treating both conditions.

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(However, if your flakes are persistent or you are experiencing sores or scabbing, extreme itching, or dryness accompanied by pain, it’s best to check in with your doctor.)

What causes a dry scalp?

Dry and itchy scalp is caused by, you guessed it, a lack of moisture. Our hair follicles have tiny oil-producing machines called sebaceous glands that keep our scalp and hair moisturized. Several factors can contribute to a decrease in this oil production, including excessive washing, dry cold air, dehydration, lack of proper nutrition and certain skin conditions.

How to treat and prevent a dry scalp

Fortunately, we can address dry and itchy scalp from the inside out. Here are five tips to prevent those pesky dry flakes:

1. Increase your healthy fat intake

Try to include 25-35% of your calories from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated (healthy) fats. Unlike saturated or trans fats, polyunsaturated fats contain omega-3 fatty acids. Our body is unable to make omega-3 on its own, so we need it in our diet. These anti-inflammatory fatty acids provide several health benefits, including preventing dry and itchy scalp. Fish like salmon, sardines, and rainbow trout are high sources of omega-3 fatty acids with generally low mercury levels, making them a great dietary choice for healthy fat. Other food sources to include in your diet are walnuts, chia seeds, ground flax seed, avocado, and olive oil.

2. Drink plenty of water

We all know we need to drink water to stay healthy, but how do you know if you’re drinking enough? According to The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, an adequate daily fluid intake is about 15.5 cups of fluids for men and about 11.5 cups of fluids a day for women. About 20% of this requirement is met through food, but the rest needs to come from drinks. Your individual water intake may vary based on your activity level. If you are sweating from exercise, hot weather, or sauna use, up your intake. An appropriate goal for most people is six glasses of water daily to keep your body, including your scalp, well-hydrated.

3. Avoid excessive washing and harsh chemicals

Simply washing our hair too much can lead to a dry and itchy scalp. Basically, when we wash our hair, we are stripping our scalp of the oils it uses to keep moisturized. When we overdo the washing, our skin can become irritated. Try to space out washing your hair as long as you can stand it. Often times, this will be effective in improving the condition of your scalp. Consider using shampoos, conditioners and hair products that are free from parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrances, and sulfates. These harsh chemicals can be irritating to the scalp leading to irritation, dryness, itching, and flaking.

4. Use Nutrafol

Nutrafol provides personalized hair growth products that are physician formulated and 100% drug free. Our Core Solutions are your foundation for hair wellness. Formulated with ingredients clinically proven to improve hair growth by addressing multiple root causes of poor hair health including: hormones, stress, nutrition, metabolism, and environmental factors. All of our core solutions contain curcumin, saw palmetto, tocotrienols, and ashwagandha.

Nutrafol is also fortified with marine collagen, which is known to promote healthy hair and diffusion of nutrients into the scalp. Additionally, Nutrafol is formulated with vitamin A, zinc, and an amino acid called methionine which all work to strengthen your sebaceous glands. Properly functioning sebaceous glands will balance the oils on your scalp.

5. Eat a well-rounded diet

A dry and itchy scalp may be due to nutritional deficiencies. Just like the rest of our body, our scalp needs the proper building blocks from our diet to function properly. For example, a deficiency in vitamin A could cause improper sebaceous gland function. High vitamin A foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, dark leafy greens, and bell peppers. Healthy eating doesn’t need to be complicated. Choose whole foods, meaning foods that as close to their natural state as possible. Include a source of protein with every meal, eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables, and add sources of healthy fats daily. Plan ahead to bring healthy snacks to avoid temptation. Limit excessive sugar, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates. Your scalp will thank you!

By Dr. Adriana Poulakos, ND

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. MELISSA ANZELONE, ND

on December 26, 2019

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